This past week the stools in our kitchen got a workout. It was a pleasure to see them used as we had originally envisioned and our guests took several meals in the kitchen with us, chatting at the counter while we cooked. They were a lively couple and we had a lot of fun with them, discussing everything from food to art, decorating to personal histories and politics. Politics didn't last long as Alex has a strict rule forbidding politics and religion in the kitchen. It's a rule that I agree with for both topics stir up strong feelings and civilized coversations can quickly turn into something you don't want in the atmosphere while you are preparing food meant to nourish the now feuding parties.
The stools were a purchase we made when we realized how often people ended up in our kitchen. In retrospect it made perfect sense, after all that's usually the most popular room (in our experiences) when entertaining at home. People feel comfortable there and free to be social and ask questions. They love to watch the process of creating a dish and if you happen to be in the kitchen at the right moment, tasting something new is an added benefit. It's wonderful for us because we learn so much there and having new people to talk to just adds to the whole process. Their personal experiences and biases, their stories about food and their questions about how we do things forces us to look at our own processes in a different way and from a fresh perspective. This website does that for us too. Every question and every comment helps us learn something new. It's a fabulous and sometimes challenging experience.
Actually, while I'm thinking about it I'd like to address something. We often talk about how we came up with a dish and the elements that comprise it, but we don't give you actual proportions, ingredients or specific techniques. We don't do that to make people crazy, we do it because a lot of the ingredients that we use are not easily available. Things like Gellan or transglutaminase, Micryo or thermoreversible gels are not found in all kitchens and are available in many different proprietary names, formulas and concentrations. Add to that the fact that neither of is is very good at writing down exactly what we're doing while we're doing it; okay, he's better at than I am, I've lost more recipes than I can count; and you have an imperfect process. We're getting better at recording things and the website has truly helped that process. But we're not willing to publish a flawed procedure or a recipe where we're not sure we (I) remembered all of the ingredients. It actually took a lecture from another chef to get us to start weighing and measuring and writng things down.
So we're not trying to keep secrets, per se, but sometimes it would make our posts too long and complicated to spell out each individual recipe and technique. In some cases the fact that most readers can't get their hands on the necessary ingredients is another deterrent to publishing the procedures here. We are trying to get more informatin out there and if you have questions please feel free to e-mail us or just leave a comment.
Speaking of answers, I promised someone a recipe for scones. Well, actually I promised a few people, I thought that I had posted it already but obvously I was mistaken. So here goes, this is one of those basic recipes with endless permutations.
1 1/2 cups AP flour
1 1/2 cups wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar, white or brown
1/4 teaspoon baking soda (1/2 teaspoon at sea level)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder (2 teaspoons at sea level)
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 ounces cold, diced butter
1 cup buttermilk (regular or low fat), milk, half and half or cream
1 teaspoon flavored extract if desired (vanilla, lemon, almond, etc.
1 cup of fresh berries or 1/2 cup diced bananas and 1/2 cup chocolate chip or the zest of one lemon and 1/4 cup diced candied ginger, or 3/4 cup dried fruits or nuts of your choice
Preheat oven to 375ºF, convection oven to 350ºF
In a food processor pulse together flours, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and optional lemon zest. Add cold, diced butter and pulse to blend. Add liquid and extract and pulse till the dough just comes together, It will still seem a bit crumbly. Turn the dough out on to the counter and using a bench scraper, fold in the fruit or nuts of your choice. Form the dough into two 6-inch rounds, approximately 1 1/2 inches high. Cut each into quarters or sixths depending on what size you like your scones. Lay scones out on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake 7 minutes and rotate the pan halfway. Bake 7-9 minutes more or until golden brown. Let cool on the pan for five minutes before serving.
*For vegan scones, substitute 4 ounces chilled nut butter for the cold diced butter and 1 cup soy or rice milk for the liquid.